RAIL-WITH-TRAIL CASE STUDIES
Partially complete. 2.8 miles of the Richmond Green-
way (phases I and II) are open. A planned connection to the
Ohlone Greenway is expected to be constructed in 2014. A gap
remains at the complex crossing of a Union Pacific line at 23rd
Street and Carlson Blvd., and there are plans to extend the
western end of the greenway to connect with the San Francisco
The Richmond Greenway runs through Rich-
mond, Calif., a city of just over 100,000 people in the East
Bay region. The 2.8-mile long, multi-use trail has 32 acres of
adjacent green space, and provides a valuable transportation
and recreation facility in an area underserved by open space
and where many residents do not have a car.
The greenway runs directly adjacent to an active section of rail-
road for 1.3 miles of its length. This active railroad section is
part of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, a heavy-rail
commuter line with an electric third rail. It operates between
Richmond and other Bay Area destinations. Each weekday,
trains operate along the Richmond line in each direction,
traveling up to 80 mph. Trains are less frequent on weekends.
The multi-use trail is eight feet wide and its surface
transitions from asphalt to crushed stone at various points.
Ornamental light poles dot the path in places, and a wire fence
separates the trail from the railroad tracks along the 1.3-mile
rail-with-trail section. There is one railroad crossing on the
trail, a grade-separated bridge crossing covered with fencing to
minimize potential interactions between trail users and trains.
A refurbished historic railroad tunnel takes the trail underneath
Interstate 80. For the rail-with-trail portion, the total width of
the corridor is approximately 75 feet, and the average distance
between the trail and the tracks is 25 feet. Despite the limited
right-of-way, there are efforts to add trees and landscaping to
this narrower section to enhance the corridor and to provide a
visual buffer between adjacent homes and the trail.
The cost of trail design was approximately $450,000, and
construction costs totaled $3.6 million. Prior soil contamina-
tion and the mitigation of impacts to wetlands and biological
resources contributed to these costs. City of Richmond had full
ownership of the trail corridor prior to trail development, and
did not have to purchase easements from BART.
BART’s fencing standard was key in addressing
the safety concerns posed by the speed and frequency of BART
trains and the presence of the electric third rail. In addition,
access to the trail from the north side, where the rail line is
located, is restricted to grade-separated crossings. Along the
section of trail that passes over the tracks, BART added razor
wire to provide an additional barrier.
While this addressed BART’s concerns, it detracted from the
aesthetic experience of trail users. Friends of the Richmond
Greenway, Urban Tilth, Groundwork Richmond, Pogo Park
and other groups have led the effort to create an attractive urban
space in this corridor, and have worked with the city to access
significant funding to complete various phases of the project.
More information on the Richmond Greenway is available on
the City of Richmond’s website:
Our community partners have been a critical
ally in helping to secure construction funding,
and support the Richmond Greenway’s ongoing
maintenance activities. With the limited public
resources available, this partnership has enabled
the Richmond Greenway to develop to where it is
today, and to continue to evolve as a community
resource,” notes Chris Chamberlain, Parks and
Landscape Superintendent for the City